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Polyolefin supplier Borouge investing in Asia

By: Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CHINA

May 22, 2013

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Polyolefin supplier Borouge has reorganized its China operations to reflect the growing importance of the region to its global business.

"Borouge is on an exponential growth journey as we reinforce our business momentum in Asia," said Wim Roels, CEO of the sales and marketing unit, Borouge Pte. Ltd., at a news conference at Chinaplas in Guangzhou.

A new North Asia region was formed in April 2013, explained Vincent Ong, formerly head of Greater China and now senior vice president of the newly created North Asia regional territory.

"We are excited about the growth strategy and are aggressively making preparation for the expansion of our business," said Ong, who joined Borouge almost a year ago.

In a one-on-one interview with Plastics News, Ong said the new regional territory expands from Greater China to add in Korea and Japan. Plans are in the works to open a regional center in Shanghai, expanding on the compounding plant there that primarily makes specialty products for automotive applications.

The automotive market is a key part of the North Asia regional strategy, Ong said. That is why the company has decided to enter the Japan market, he said, and why China remains important.

"Automotive is a fast-growing industry in China. We will be doing an expansion to increase the capacity of our compounding plant from 50 kilotons per year to 90 kiloton per year in the next two years," he said.

Borouge's factory in Fengxian also will increase capacity in the next two years, he added.

"We want to develop into a bigger critical mass. The actual space is not increased, [it's] just the capacity that we want to increase."

The Chinese polyolefins market is expected to surge from 32 million in 2010 to 59 million tons in 2020, according to the company.

The company also plans to open two more warehouses in the region. Borouge already has warehouses in Guangzhou Nansha and Shanghai Fengxian, the new facilities will open in Ningbo and Tianjin by the end of 2013.

The identification of Shanghai as a regional center has the company on the search for a new office space. The regional center offices will move to a site in Pudong that has not been finalized. The offices also will house a research and development center.

Ong revealed that he is looking into the western regions of China as a future direction of development strategy.

"The significant thing is that China is undergoing rapid infrastructural changes. Air transport, land transport, rail transport. High speed rail, roads. Airports. It's making a lot more remote regions a lot more accessible. This actually force the growth. If we don't participate in this kind of growth we will miss out on next leap of growth in China," Ong said.

Ong believes the Chinese government's push to develop its western region is about recognizing the need for an increase in domestic consumption.

"I think that it is about time that we change our model to adapt to what is the local need of the Chinese market." But Ong says it is still too soon to say how this will play out in the company's regional strategy. "We are studying. A decision to build a hub must serve the needs of the company in the long term, not just the short term."

But he said that going west is a future step for sure, as that is where he sees his clients going. "They build roads, we build cars. And they build factories, we provide plastic. And then they build power station we provide the cable," he said.

The company is also expanding its support of local talent. On May 20 at Chinaplas, the company signed a partnership agreement with the China University of Petroleum, expanding its university sponsorship program to seven universities in Asia — including five in China.

"Signing the sponsorship agreement with the CUP is in line with our global commitment to attract and develop qualified scientific talents in the chemical industry across Asia," Roels said.

Borouge is an Abu Dhabi-based joint venture of Austria's Borealis AG and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. in the United Arab Emirates.